United States electoral competitiveness


State Turnout

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Election turnout varies greatly by state despite efforts to rationalize voting rights. For example, in 1789, the voting policies in the United States were discriminatory, with only white Americans, Americans above twenty-one years, and Americans with the ability to pay poll taxes, and property owners allowed to vote (Ponstingel and Russel 257). Voting policies have since evolved with the enactments of numerous amendments. For instance, the 24th amendment scrapped off the condition of paying poll taxes before Americans can vote. Nevertheless, turnout on election days continue to vary, with Texas recording among the lowest voter turnout. This retrospective paper evaluates factors affecting turnout through the lens of Texas. The factors that influence voter turnout are provided. Moreover, the reasons for low turnout in Texas and recommendations for increasing turnout in Texas are given.

In the United States electoral competitiveness influence voter turnout, with a focus on the competitiveness of the presidential election. That said, state electoral competitiveness is the intensity of election contest regarding electoral positions. In the 2020 presidential elections, sixty-nine percent of voters turned out for election. By comparison, the countrys average voter turnout for presidential election is sixty-six percent (Ponstingel and Russel 258). In 2016 46.45 per cent of Texans turned out for election against the 59.39 registered voters (Ponstingel 2). Given that other states recorded higher turnouts, it is evident that Texas has a lower electoral competitiveness which affects the turnout adversely. Additionally, the types of election influences turnout with significance being ascribed to some elections more than others. For example, primary elections, off-years state legislators elections, and local elections exhibit low turnout. The 1999 Dallas Mayoral election turnout was five percent to exemplify the low turnout about the perceived importance of election

On the other hand, voting laws can increase or decrease voter turnout, with the common voting laws including registration laws, identification laws, early voting, station accessibility. Stringent voter registration laws with no room for flexibility reduces registered voters. Furthermore, efficient identification protocols ensure that all legible registered voters are not left out during voting exercise. Finally, demographics such as age, gender, wealth status, and race tend to influence voting patterns. Overall, voters appear to be older, richer, and constituted of more white Americans compared to non-voters (Ponstingel 1). Therefore, States with young populations are likely to record low voter turnout compared to states with older people.

Texas continue to experience low voter turnout because it holds most of its elections in nonpresidential election years. Essentially, voters attune varying levels of significance to elections. While primary elections and local elections that often happen in nonpresidential election years have low turnout, other elections have higher turnout (Parker Jr 10). Therefore, the level of importance voters ascribe to elections in Texas is low compared to other states. On the other hand Texas has many candidate contesting for public office. As a result, voters are overwhelmed with the number of leaders who need votes. According to Ponstingel (7), when electioneering campaigns are too intense voter apathy ensues. In Texas, many candidates run for office, which means that electioneering campaigns are frequent. Excessive campaigns lead to voter boredom and disinterest in electioneering activities causing low turnout.

Additionally, Texass demographics contributes to low voter turnout because there is no a compulsory legal requirement for voting. Specifically, the population of Texas is comprised of young people and Latino who have traditionally been known to have low interest in voting. Furthermore, voter identification policies enacted in 2013 have managed to survive legal challenges affecting voting trends. The voter identification policies have not ne impartial and efforts to amend them have stalled. As a result, Texans opt to avoid the whole voting process. Lastly, there has been a Republican dominance in Texas for over a decade. It follows that the election results almost certainly go the Republican way. Dominance reduces electoral competition and hence voter turnout. According to Parker Jr (11), Republican influence has reduced resources for Democrats in Texas which stifles competition. In response, Democratic voters do not turnout for voting because they feel their votes will not count.

With the exemption of the 2020 presidential election, Texas has traditionally recorded low voter turnout. That said, there needs to be an action plan that includes amendments of unfavorable laws whole adopting practices that promise voting sustainability to voters. For example, Texas holds election on nonpresidential election years. Holding election when Americans are not voting for president makes such election less significant. Therefore, most Texans do not show up for the elections. Against this backdrop, Texas government should implement policies that schedule elections during the presidential election years to attach a similar level of importance to other elections. Additionally, while the 24th amendment was swiftly adapted and implemented in most states, some move slowly (Moehling and Melissa 10). Poll taxes continue to be charged and voters avoid voting because of the condition. Texan government should strictly enforce the 24th amendment to ensure that all Texans can vote regardless of their economic conditions.

Texas has more young people and Latinos who have been known to avoid voting because of lifestyle factors and voting policies. For example, the young Texans feel inconvenienced by the lengthy verification exercises (Hasen 277). As such, there is a need to come up with a twofold action plan that improves turnout. On the one hand, Texas should integrate modern voter identification technologies to expedite the process and attract the young population. On the other hand, the Texan government should embrace emancipation campaigns aimed towards teaching the youths about the importance of exercising their civic duties. Finally, the voting policies must be amended to enhance neutrality and promote competition between the Republicans and the Democrats.

In conclusion, the voter turnout in states vary, with some recording high voter turnout and other recording low voter turnout. Texas has for long been regarded among the states that record the least number of voters. As highlighted in this paper, electoral competitiveness, election type and demographics influence the voter turnout in most states in the United States. For example, the importance ascribed to the 2020 presidential election attracted a high voter turnout (Hasen 270). Moreover, Texas records low turnout because of holding elections in nonpresidential election years, voter apathy, Republican dominance, and a higher composition of young people and Latinos. To increase voter turnout in Texas, elections should be held in presidential election years. Moreover, there need to be stringent enforcement of the 24th amendment to ensure that all Texans can vote regardless of financial status. Finally, the voting laws need to be amended to promote neutrality and promote competition.


Work Cited

Hasen, Richard L. “Three Pathologies of American Voting Rights Illuminated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and How to Treat and Cure Them.” Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy vol.19, no.3, 2020, pp.263-288.

Moehling, Carolyn M., and Melissa A. Thomasson. “Votes for Women: An Economic Perspective on Women’s Enfranchisement.” Journal of Economic Perspectives vol.34, no.2, 2020, pp.3-23.

Parker Jr, William Kerry. An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Individual Strategies and Actions to Inform Voters in a Texas Isd Tax Ratification Election. Diss. Lamar University-Beaumont, 2020.

Ponstingel, John, and Russell Weaver. “Can Social Institutions Awaken Sleeping Giants? A Pilot Electoral Geography Study of Latinx Voter Turnout in Texas Counties in the 2016 US Presidential Election.” The Professional Geographer vol.73, no.2, 2021, pp.254-268.

Ponstingel, John. “Social Institutions and Latinx Voter Turnout: A Mixed Methods Study from Texas, USA.” 2021.


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